How many projects at a time?

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 01-23-2012 11:31 PM 1593 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 3097 days

01-23-2012 11:31 PM

As I write this I have: (1) all the pieces cut and ready for assembly on a chair, (2) the legs cut out for 2 night stands, (3) the main parts cut for 2 tortilla presses and (4) a big bowl blank mounted on the lathe with a little turning done (much more to go on a 15” bowl).

This is typical for me. I like to have multiple projects going. If I get a little tired of one, I switch to another. I always like to have a lathe project in the works because I like to spend 30 minutes or so of turning each day. It is very therapeutic but I don’t want to turn much more than 30 minutes per day.

I also can get a little bit of set-up coordination. I often do a 1/4” or 3/8” round over on the edges of my pieces. I can set up the router with the appropriate bit and do the round overs on more than one project at one time.

The down side is that I need extra room to store partially completed projects and everything goes slower. Nonetheless, this is how I like to do it.

How about you? How many projects are you typically working on at the same time?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

34 replies so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2599 days

#1 posted 01-23-2012 11:50 PM

Working on 7 boxes at the moment, but I can’t start two of them until my purpleheart shows up (bell forest).
A little tedious, but fun nonetheless. The cold makes it not as fun as it could be.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View KPW's profile


226 posts in 2391 days

#2 posted 01-23-2012 11:57 PM

Rich, I like to have multiple projects too. Most of them are in my head though. Does making two of anything count as more than one project?

-- Ken --------- never try and put 5 lbs. of tenon in a 3 lb. mortise.

View Nighthawk's profile


556 posts in 2379 days

#3 posted 01-24-2012 12:06 AM

I have four or five on the go at the moment… but not all are at the cutting stage

  • Replacement speaker boxes. Nearing completion, just needs the pre-amp to be installed and back put on and the finish coating done.
  • Speaker stands. (seperate but for said speakers above, as it was an after thought from the person we are doing them for) parts cut, lamitaned, waiting on time and space
  • 2 bed blanket trunks. Wood on racks ready to go. Most likely two seperate designs although we may do 2 the same to make it easier but have different design face.
  • Under bed draws. in design stage, sourcing wood.
  • 2 sets of shelves for upstairs. Waiting for me to get of my lazy butt to do it. This is to keep her indoors and head cook on my side of the tool war we have.

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View Woodwrecker's profile


4153 posts in 3598 days

#4 posted 01-24-2012 12:29 AM

Usually one at a time.
It allows my old feeble brain to concentrate a little more.

Sometimes, I’ll start a project and then start another; putting the first on the side while I puzzle out a design feature or new joinery technique I’d like to incorporate in it, and working on the second one (usually a less complicated one) will somehow get my thought process going better on the first project.

If you can understand all that; welcome to the inside of my head….. :)

You come up with some good forum questions Rich.
Keep them coming.

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3087 days

#5 posted 01-24-2012 12:37 AM

Great question, as always Rich. I usually have just one, but when I lose momentum/interest I will kick another project off and come back to it when I “feel it” again. This doesn’t happen to me all that often, but it actually did just recently. I was in the middle of a media cabinet project and I lost interest. There were aspects of the project design that I didn’t like, and was having regrets. So I walked away from it, did 2 or 3 other smaller projects, and then came back to it with a fresh perspective. I ended up re-designing it so that it flowed better and was more challenging (I seriously think I designed it when I was tired and incorporated too many shortcuts in). I just finished the project a few days ago and felt much better about it.

-- PaulMayer,

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3097 days

#6 posted 01-24-2012 12:42 AM

Paul & Eric

I know exactly what you are talking about. I routinely stop on a project to more clearly think out the next steps. I very seldom use plans. I usually have a good idea about what I want to do when I start, but I often stop to reassess the best way to proceed. I often work on another project (often a turning project) while I wait for the light to come on with the solution to my dilemma.

It seems like I do my best thinking at night while I am waiting to fall asleep.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2910 days

#7 posted 01-24-2012 12:45 AM

I try to limit myself to 30 or less at a time. (grin)

If you count all hobbies, I have about six leather projects in various stages from cutting the raw leather to carving to dye and finish to assembly. Then there’s the giant scale model DeHaviland Turbo Beaver (aircraft) that I have one wing done and the second about 3/4 done on and hope to get flying this summer. Then there’s the work I was doing on my classic ‘84 Honda Goldwing that got cut short by the snow. And of course there’s the trike I’m building from scratch and plan to ride late this summer. Add in the rebuild of the bathroom. Then there’s the pantry for the wife.

In the wood shop there’s the flippy stands for some of my tools, a stand for my new to me radial arm saw, a better stand for my table saw, a stand for my lathe and a number of jigs I want to build. There’s the Rubic’s cube table I have to finish yet, a jewelry box for the wife and some practice for the class I’m going to run here on nut crackers.

Want me to continue? (grin)

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3583 days

#8 posted 01-24-2012 12:48 AM

I usually have one major project and several minor ones to work on when I get burned out or stuck on the major one.

Big time saver to mark the sticks as to what they are, so you can remember when you come back to it. I generally use blue painters tape and a magic marker for this.

-- Joe

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2991 days

#9 posted 01-24-2012 12:58 AM

My projects are usually that big they are done strictly one at a time. Not enough space to work on multiple projects.

View Bobsboxes's profile


1367 posts in 2686 days

#10 posted 01-24-2012 01:07 AM

Rich, today I have, finished one box that has been a pain. Sanded up my new dual filter box for my cyclone and primed those. Put a bottom in a box and did wood hinge glue up on that one, yesterday I couldn’t deside how I wanted it to look. Cut out all the parts for two small sofa tables and sanded up one of my lazy s side tables. and after lunch I had Lady stop by and give an ok on plans for a hutch, I have been dealing with her on for a month.
I can’t work on just one thing at a time, I am thinking about other projects as I am building the one I am currently working on. Sometimes it also is helpful to me to just sweep the floor, and the design problem I am working on comes to me. When I get real tired of the currant projects, I build something simple I have been wanting to do for my shop.
I also don’t seem to be able to follow plans, I have chicken scrach notes all over.
When I used to just work on one thing, it took a lot longer and a few times taken back apart, because I rushed into it.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5908 posts in 3217 days

#11 posted 01-24-2012 01:09 AM

I do one project at a time, I do it well, and then I move on….seems like I heard that somewhere..some movie, or something…:) Right now my project is not woodworking, but rather in the fishing game….I’m cleaning, oiling, and lubing all my reels to get ready for a big 7 day fishing trip down to the border of Texas/Louisana in March….Cleaning rods, and tackle, also, and I do this every year about this time, so I usually am either finishing up a project before this, or will wait till I get back…I have a chest of drawers I’ll have to do for a customer then, so it’s back to business as usual in the shop…..Oh yea…Big Tiny…..I also do leather work….mainly anymore I make custom instrument straps….guitar, bass, banjo, etc…I used to carve pictorals, but not so much anymore….I just did a guitar strap for a country music musican in Branson, Mo, and got one to go to Nashville, Tn after the fishing trip…..after much needed rest…..:)

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2864 days

#12 posted 01-24-2012 02:41 AM

I rarely work on more than one project at a time.
I think it may be considered a character flaw. At least my wife thinks it is. When I’m on a project, it consumes me. I can’t think about much of anything except that project.
Oh, I can seperate family time and shop time, but when my mind is free, whether it be in the bath tub or sitting in bed, my mind is on that current project.
I have even went as far as having an idea in the wee hours of the morning and going to the shop to work on it.
When I do have more than one project going at a time, it’s as if my mind can’t fully commit to them all. I feel like I can’t give anything more than one at a time my full attention.


View RandyM68's profile


693 posts in 2340 days

#13 posted 01-24-2012 02:48 AM

I have way too many things to do, and way too short of a attention span. I start working on 3 or 5 things a day only to get distracted by something else. About every fourth day I add something new to the list. And my wife always remembers what she wants me to do, and that’s a whole ‘nother list altogether, Oops, there goes my train of thought again.

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3097 days

#14 posted 01-24-2012 02:57 AM

I have, in the past, been guilty of taking on too many projects at a time and loosing track of one or more of them.

Recently, I found two pieces of 6/4 oak. Each one has 1/2” wide grooves cut in them from a dado stack. They were clearly made for something. I have no idea what that was.

While it is my nature to work on 3 – 4 projects at a time, I need to keep that under control. I maintain a list of the current projects now, so I don’t loose track of one. Right now it is an oak chair, 2 walnut nightstands, 2 oak tortilla presses and a big bowl on the lathe. Nothing will get added to this list until something is done and out the door.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View ToddTurner's profile


144 posts in 3345 days

#15 posted 01-24-2012 03:08 AM

You beat me to it Rich!!! I was going to ask everyone how many unfinished projects or jobs we have in and Around the shops. I guess great minds think alike, eh?!
Well, i have 2…....2 many!!
I have a kitchen island, kitchen cabinets, 3 cutting boards, 2 picture frames, printer table, toolbox for my tractor…..

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